Vera announces new role for Family Justice: former spin-off to provide technical assistance as a Vera program

NEW YORK – The Vera Institute of Justice announced today that it is integrating the national technical assistance initiatives of Family Justice, an independent nonprofit organization, into its portfolio of work. Operating at Vera as the Family Justice Program, the initiatives will continue to provide training and support to community-based organizations and government agencies in corrections, probation and parole, and juvenile justice.

Family Justice grew out of La Bodega de la Familia, a Vera demonstration project on New York’s Lower East Side that broke new ground in tapping families as a resource in dealing with addiction and involvement in the justice system. Over the years and through strategic partnerships, Family Justice developed tools and methods that extended its services into juvenile and adult facilities across the nation. Family Justice’s approach, drawing on clients’ families as a support network, has resulted in changes such as enhanced visitation policies and the adoption of strength-based case management practices.

“Incorporating Family Justice into Vera makes great sense,” said Vera’s director, Michael Jacobson. “Vera has the national expertise to help Family Justice continue to do its important work around the country, and Family Justice’s unique focus and skills complement Vera’s work with governments to improve policies and outcomes related to adult corrections and youth justice.”

The Family Justice Program’s work at Vera is supported by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) at the U.S. Department of Justice. Program staff are piloting corrections and parole policy and case management changes in Oklahoma and New Mexico by training staff to help individuals draw on family support while incarcerated and as they return to their communities. BJA is also funding Family Justice’s efforts to adapt its tools and methodologies for use by partners in jails and community-based organizations.

“Because Family Justice traces its origins to Vera, we can continue to build on our shared commitment to enhancing justice systems,” said longtime program director Margaret diZerega, who moved with the program when the independent agency closed in November. “Vera’s emphasis on research and evaluation will make the results of this work even more pronounced. We’ll be able to make recommendations about how other systems throughout the country can successfully apply our tools and methods.”

The Vera Institute of Justice is an independent, non-partisan, nonprofit center for justice policy and practice. Vera combines expertise in research, demonstration projects, and technical assistance to help leaders in government and civil society improve the systems people rely on for justice and safety.

Listen to a podcast about the Family Justice Program.